February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Playing with audio.
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tag: voice

Disquiet Junto Project 0128: One Year Ago

Write a score to accompany a short piece of text you wrote a year ago today.

20140612-ayearago

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This project was published in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, June 12, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, June 16, 2014, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (sign up at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0128: One Year Ago

We just these past few weeks launched a new online forum for discussion by members of the Disquiet Junto (at disquiet.com/forums). So, it seems fitting to engage in a project that involves us hearing each others’ actual voices — and, thanks to the vantage provided by passing time, to hear our own.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Locate some text that you wrote one year ago. It might be a tweet, a Facebook post, an excerpt from an email, a review of a product on Amazon.com, a shopping list, a diary entry, the day’s events in a calendar. (You can interpret “today” in the first step to mean June 16, or the date that you do this project.)

Step 2: Record yourself reading the text aloud.

Step 3: Compose a short piece of music that accompanies the recording of you reading the text. Have the piece open with at least five seconds of sound before your voice kicks in and have at least five seconds of sound at the end after you speak your final syllable.

Deadline: Monday, June 16, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your finished work will be determined by the text you select, likely between 30 seconds and two minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0128-ayearago″ in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 128th Disquiet Junto project — “Write a score to accompany a short piece of text you wrote a year ago today” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/06/12/disquiet0128-ayearago/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums

Photo associated with this project originally by Dustin Ground, used via Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dground/502943475

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“Så Kan Det Gå”

Alveola unveils her glitchy puzzle.

“Så kan det gå” by the Swedish musician Alveola Ämting lays a tremulous vocal amid a light shimmer of broken static. Her granular sounds, a gentle if brittle smattering of nano-sonic fissures, give way as time passes to her halting, slow-paced intonation:

I was not looking for trouble But I got caught by a siren song You keep me busy with your puzzles

I know I should keep off your heart But I don’t fancy normal love You can hold me responsible Cause I’m the one that follows you around

The vocal is lightly processed, the words melding with the background, so where the treated verbalization ends and the backdrop begins is kept enticingly uncertain. Alveola indeed keeps our ears busy with her puzzles.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/alveola. Alveola Ämting is based in Härnösand, Sweden. More at alveola.se and her youtube.com channel.

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Tangents: Data Immersion, the Tuning of the Internet, Superloops, …

Plus: the emotional key of books, physical computer drums, quantum computer sounds, steampunk modular, and more

Tangents is an occasional collection of short, lightly annotated mentions of sound-related activities.

Data Immersion: Characteristically breathtaking video of a new work by Ryoji Ikeda, perhaps the leading installation poet of data immersion. This is of his piece “supersymmetry,” which relates to his residency at CERN, the supercollider. More at supersymmetry.ycam.jp:

In an interview he talks about the dark-matter research that informed his effort:

“Supersymmetry is being considered as a possible solution of the mystery of this dark matter. During the period I’m staying at CERN, there are experiments being carried out with the aim to prove the existence of as-yet undiscovered ‘supersymmetry particles’ that form pairs with the particles that make up the so-called ‘Standard Model’ catalogue of physical substances. Data and technologies of these experiments are not directly incorporated in the work, but I’m going to discuss a variety of things with the physicists at CERN, and the results of these discussions will certainly be reflected.”

Tones of the Internet: The tonal repository of the Internet is very different from the room tone of the Internet, which we explored in a recent Disquiet Junto project. Over at wired.com, Joseph Flaherty profiles Zach Lieberman, with an emphasis on his Play the World project, which scours the Internet for sounds — the music heard on radio stations — and then allows them to be played back. “Using the set-up,” Flagerty writes, “a person can literally turn the internet into a musical instrument.” What makes that sentence more than hyperbole is that the source audio is played at the note triggered by the user, though it’s by no means “the Internet” being played, and instead a fairly well-circumscribed and specific subset of the Internet. (The effort brings to mind the title of R. Murray Schafer’s classic book of sound studies, The Tuning of the World.) It’s part of DevArt, a Google digital art endeavor that has nothing to do with Deviant Art, the longstanding web forum for (largely) visual artists, or with Devart, the database software company. “Play the World, and several other DevArt projects,” reports Flaherty, ” will make their debut at the Barbican Gallery of Art in London in July, but the code is available on Github today.” There’s something intriguing about an art premiere that is preceded by the materials’ worldwide open-source availability. Here’s audio of the note A being played for 20 minutes based on a wide array of these sound sources. It appears to be from Zieberman’s own SoundCloud account, which oddly has only 15 followers as of this writing. Well, 16, because I just joined up:

The Singing Book: At hyperallergic.com, Allison Meier writes about an effort to extract the emotional content from writing and turn it into music. It’s a project by Hannah Davis and Saif Mohammad. Below is an example based on the novel Lord of the Flies. More at Davis and Mohammad’s musicfromtext.com. A few weeks back, the Junto explored a parallel effort to listen to the rhythm inherent in particular examples of writing, and to make music based on that rhythm:

Everyday Drum: The divisions between words like “analog” and “digital,” and “electric” and “acoustic,” are far more blurred than they get credit for, as evidenced by this fine implementation of an iPad triggering not just physical beats, but whimsically innovative ones made from bottle caps, buttons, grains tacks, and other everyday objects (found via twitter.com/Chris_Randall). The project is by Italy-based Lorenzo Bravi, more from whom at lorenzobravi.com:

LED Modular: Vice Motherboard’s DJ Pangburn interviews Charles Lindsay (the SETI artist-in-residence, who invited me to give that talk last month) on his massive LED installation, which involves the chance nature of modular synthesis applied to recordings of the Costa Rica rainforest. Says Lindsay:

“I love modular synthesis, the unpredictable surprises, the textures and wackiness,” he said of his heavily-cabled Eurorack modular synthesizer. “My rig is populated by a lot of SNAZZY FX’s modules. I’m part of the company, which is essentially Dan Snazelle, a wonderful genius, inventor and musician. We share an approach that says ‘let’s build these things and see what happens.’”

Also part of the LED exhibit, titled Carbon IV, is audio sourced from the quantum artificial intelligence laboratory at NASA Ames. Here’s audio from Linday’s SoundCloud account:

Superloops: Rob Walker shifts attention from the “supercut” of related material — like the “yeahs” of Metallica’s James Hetfield — to the superloop of standalone elements. “The opposite of a supercut,” writes Walker at Yahoo! Tech, “the superloop condenses nothing. To the contrary, it takes one brief moment of sound or video and repeats it.” It was an honor to be queried, along with Ethan Hein, in Walker’s research. I pointed him to the great sounds of the Star Trek enterprise on idle. … And in somewhat related news, in Walker’s “The Workologist” column in The New York Times, in which he responds to “workplace conundrums” from readers, he has some advice for someone bothered by an office mate’s gum chewing (“Other than the clicking of keys and occasional phone calls, it’s the only sound in an otherwise quiet office”); he writes, in part:

Because you’ve ruled out music, maybe a comfortable set of noise-canceling headphones — tuned to nothing — would be enough to blunt the irritating sounds. Or you could consider any number of “white noise” generators that are available free online. Noisli.com, for example, generates forest sounds, coffee-shop noise and the like. You also could do a little research on “ambient” music and use a service like Pandora to construct a nondistracting sound stream. Such approaches may be inoffensive enough that you can simply play the sound at low volume from your computer — no earbuds required.

Steampunk Modular: By and large, I tend to keep the threshold of coverage above the level of “things that look neat,” but sometimes that neat is neat enough that I can’t resist, especially when it’s tied to a fine achievement by a talented sound practitioner. Richard Devine has posted on Instagram this shot of steampunk-style effects module, encased in an old book, that he got from the makers of the Xbox One video game Wolfenstein: The New Order:

Synesthesia Robots: And here’s one from Kid Koala of his lofi visual interface for his sampler. Koala is a talented cartoonist as well as an ace downtempo DJ. Those efforts have collided in a score he’s made for a graphic novel, and in various staged performances he’s put together, and this achieves a functional correlation in a very simple manner:

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P Is for Phonogene

Danjec plays with speech in a Make Noise module

20140523-muncky

The ellipsis in the title of the track “e for …” can be read as referring to several things, among them both the operational status of the work itself, and the means by which it accomplishes its goals.

The track in question is less a finished work than it is a step toward something. As Danjec, the musician who uploaded it to SoundCloud, notes, he’s using the music as a means to experiment with something called Phonogene. Phonogene is a modular synthesis module that takes the tape recorder as its inspiration. From the Phonogene website:

The Phonogene is a digital re-visioning and elaboration of the tape recorder as musical instrument. It takes its name from a little known, one of a kind instrument used by composer Pierre Schaeffer. It is informed by the worlds of Musique Concrète where speed and direction variation were combined with creative tape splicing to pioneer new sounds, and Microsound where computers divide sound into pieces smaller then 1/10 of a second to be manipulated like sub-atomic particles.

Here’s what it looks like:

20140523-phonogene

The Phonogene, like most modular synthesis modules, is not an instrument unto itself, but an element toward making an instrument, by working with it in combination with external sound sources and other modules. In Danjec’s hands, a short sample of human speech is tweaked this way and that above a burbling sequence of semi-random percussion:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/danjec. More from Danjec, aka London-based Grant Wilkinson, at danjec.com, twitter.com/_muncky, and instagram.com/muncky (that’s where the above image was sourced). More on the Phonogene module at the website of its manufacturer, makenoisemusic.com. Make Noise is based in Asheville, North Carolina.

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A Gathering Beat

A steady pace from Bratislava, Slovakia

The momentum inherent in the title of EGA’s “Northward” is not undermined by the track itself. The piece by the Bratislava, Slovakia, musician has a methodical, forward-pushing sense of movement — a track with a purpose. Its steady, slowly insistent pace doesn’t just suggest motion — so, too, does the track expand as it proceeds, gathering layers of static, rough noise, even snippets of vocals. Occasionally those rhythms falter like old gears, moving from an ambient techno to broken beats, but the structure eventually reaffirms itself, and the path continues.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/ega. More from EGA at twitter.com/EGA_color.

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